Sprouts blamed in 10-state Salmonella outbreak

May 21, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – Twenty-three people in 10 states have had Salmonella infections in an outbreak linked to alfalfa sprouts produced by a California company, Oregon public health officials announced today.

The same strain of Salmonella Newport has been found in all 23 patients, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) said in a news release. At least four people, including one Oregon baby, have been hospitalized, but there have been no deaths, the agency said.

Late this afternoon the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the outbreak involved 22 cases in 10 states. In an e-mailed statement, the agency said six people were hospitalized and that the illnesses began between Mar 1 and May 2.

The sprouts were marketed by Caldwell Fresh Foods of Maywood, Calif., and sold in Oregon and at least 17 other states in the West, Midwest, and South, the OHA said. The company is recalling the sprouts and cooperating with the investigation, said William E. Keene, PhD, MPH, senior epidemiologist with the OHA.

The recalled sprouts were sold in various packages under the brand names Caldwell Fresh Foods, Nature's Choice, and Caldwell Fresh Exotics, according to the release. In Oregon they were sold at Trader Joe's, Walmart, and possibly other outlets, including restaurants and delicatessens.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted a notice of the recall this afternoon. Keene said consumers should discard the products if they have them, and retailers should pull them from shelves.

"State and federal agencies are working with Caldwell to remove potentially contaminated sprouts from distribution and to identify the source of the problem—usually contaminated seed," the OHA statement said.

Counting this outbreak, Oregon has had 12 outbreaks related to raw sprouts since 1995, said Keene. "Anyone concerned about a food-borne disease should consider this before eating sprouts," he added. "The risk of severe illness is particularly high among the elderly, the immunocompromised and the very young." The release noted that most salmonellosis patients recover without medical treatment.

More cases in E coli outbreak
In other foodborne-disease news, an Escherichia coli O145 outbreak linked to shredded romaine lettuce has increased to 26 confirmed and 7 suspected cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today. The previous update on May 12 listed 23 confirmed and 7 suspected cases.

Pennsylvania has become the fifth state affected by the outbreak, with one confirmed case, the CDC said in an e-mailed statement. The other states and their counts of confirmed and probable cases are Michigan (11 and 2), New York (5 and 2), Ohio (8 and 3), and Tennessee (1 confirmed).

The CDC said the cases in Tennessee and Pennsylvania are part of the original cluster and do not indicate expansion of the outbreak. The agency put the number of hospitalized patients at 12, the same as in the previous update.

See also:

May 21 OHA news release

Recall notice on FDA site

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